Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Bad news from Hope July 27, 2011

The Hope Post Office, which I photographed on Sunday.

I WISH I DIDN’T have to update a story I posted just yesterday about the post office in Hope, south of Owatonna off Interstate 35. But I must, and the news isn’t good.

On Tuesday the United States Postal Service released the latest in a lengthy list—try 3,600-plus—post offices that could be closed to save money.

Hope wasn’t on that list.

But apparently it was on an earlier list as I discovered just minutes ago. While researching another topic online, I came across two newspaper articles about the proposed closing of Hope’s post office. Community residents have already gathered at a meeting to express their dismay with the planned closure.

Click here to read a story published in The Owatonna People’s Press.

Click here to read another story published in the The Star Eagle based in Waseca County.

Residents of Hope and the surrounding area, according to the articles, will have to wait about three more months before a decision is made on the proposed closure.

You’ll read in these stories how residents fear losing the one central place that connects them, how they worry about the impact on local businesses and more.

Their concerns are legitimate. I said it in my previous post and I’ll say it again. In a small town, a post office serves as a community gathering spot. It isn’t just a place to pick up mail, buy stamps or send a package. It is part of the heartbeat of small town Main Street.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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4 Responses to “Bad news from Hope”

  1. Amy Says:

    It’s hard. I can see it both ways. The Postal Service is hemorrhaging cash–it can’t keep doing that forever. But are there compromises? Reduction of hours? Combining the post office with another business? I don’t know. I’m not a business expert.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I also understand the need to curtail expenditures. But all too often this comes at the expense of small towns. I agree that there must be some compromise, like your suggestion to combine the post office with another business. Another factor to consider is that many residents of these small towns are elderly, do not have computers and really do rely on the USPS for communication. Sometimes internet service is not available either and if it is, it’s slow and unaffordable to those on limited incomes. For many small-town residents, the closest “big” town with a post office can be 20 or more miles away. That’s a long haul.

      • Amy Says:

        Exactly. My parents don’t have the internet, don’t even want it. And they also don’t understand how the post office works–they think they’re being told to go to a post office north of them, which is inconvenient, when in reality, they can go to the one south of them that’s much more convenient. But they think they’re “assigned” to a post office, because they’ve been so attached to their little town all these decades.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        My mom is exactly like your parents. She wants nothing to do with the internet or computers.

        I also don’t want my 79-year-old mom on the road in the winter driving to some post office miles and miles away. Winters on the southwestern Minnesota prairie can be fierce.

        Earlier this year residents of Vesta, where my mom lives, were in a major uproar about the cost of post office box rental fees. I don’t even recall the exact issue, but I can only imagine what would happen if this town of around 300 ever faced the possibility of losing its post office.


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